Elyse Defoor: Relics of Marriage at Umbrella Arts

Image above: At Umbrella Arts Gallery during the opening night. 


Umbrella Arts presented on April 30th, 2015, Relics of Marriage, an exhibition of twelve color photographs by Atlanta based artist Elyse Defoor. Drawing from a collection of over sixty previously worn wedding gowns, Defoor has explored the iconography of the white wedding dress as an emotionally ridden human artifact.

Defoor11Elyse Defoor at Umbrella Arts Gallery during the opening night. 


wedding 1©Elyse Defoor (left) Our secret marriage began in New Orleans, two years before Hurricane Katrina, 2012; (right) “My dress was boring, but I love what came out of it, 2012. Courtesy of Umbrella Arts Gallery.


Defoor, whose most recent work has explored the structure and place of women in modern society, will present selections from her Relics of Marriage series, elegantly stark color photographs that approach the wedding dress as foreign object, a focus with often haunting results.

Defoor8At Umbrella Arts Gallery during the opening night. 


The photographs, more akin to portraiture than fashion, are deceptively simple in their format, typically featuring dresses hung from a single chain, lit against a dark background. That simplicity, however, quickly leads to a gaping pit of questions –Who wore this dress? Was she happy then? Now? Did the marriage last? – that forces the viewer to wrestle with the very notion of what does a costume cover and what does it reveal.


dress©Elyse Defoor (left) Since fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce, we could have just tossed a coin, 2014;(center) The dress was elegant and fun to wear, but it’s the 122,710 hours since then I’m most grateful for, 2015; (right) In the ways of love and marriage, each time, it felt completely new, 2014. Courtesy of Umbrella Arts Gallery.


Defoor9At Umbrella Arts Gallery during the opening night. 


“Elyse Defoor’s “Relics of Marriage” project is haunting and poignant. With enigmatic grace it invites a meditation on the time-honored rites of marriage, their contradictions and joys, and their deeply felt meanings."

–Brett Abbott, Keough Family Curator of Photography & Head of Collections, High Museum of Art.

Defoor2At Umbrella Arts Gallery during the opening night. 


All Opening images by Kamila Ortiz.

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